Young man talking by smartphone and looking away while suffering from tooth pain at home. - Alameda, CARecently, have you been experiencing discomfort due to your third and final set of molars growing in? Have you noticed any swollen gum tissue and or difficulty opening your mouth? Did these symptoms last for a couple of days, disappear, and then return? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing the effects of pericoronitis.

“What is pericoronitis?” you may wonder. You may also be wondering if there is anything that you can do to relieve your symptoms. Not to worry! At California Oral and Facial Surgery, our oral surgeons are experts in treating pericoronitis successfully!  You can find the answer to your questions and more in this article.

What Is Pericoronitis?

Pericoronitis is when the gum tissues surrounding a partially erupted wisdom tooth (third molar) become inflamed. Most commonly, the inflammation affects the lower wisdom teeth more so than the upper wisdom teeth.

Causes Of Pericoronitis:

A buildup of bacteria around a partially erupted tooth can cause pericoronitis. 

When a wisdom tooth is partially exposed, it creates a gum flap or an opening where food particles and debris can get wedged around the tooth leading to the accumulation of bacteria. Infection can then develop by forming an abscess under the excess gum tissue. 

If not treated, the infection can continue to spread. In some severe cases, it can spread to the jaw, cheeks, and neck.

Are There Additional Factors That Can Increase Your Chances of Developing Pericoronitis?

Yes, there are additional factors that can increase your chances of developing pericoronitis. They are as follows:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Not seeing your general dentist for routine checkups and cleanings

Common Pericoronitis Symptoms:

The symptoms of pericoronitis can be broken up into two categories, acute and chronic. 

The Symptoms of Acute Pericoronitis Include:

  • Severe pain near your third molars, possibly causing difficulty chewing
  • Swelling of gum tissue
  • Difficulty and pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty in opening your mouth and jaw
  • Fever
  • The discharge of pus
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The Symptoms of Chronic Pericoronitis Include:

  • Leaking pus from the gums, which can create a bad taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • A dull ache that can last one or two days
  • The intensity of the symptoms that you experience will all depend on how severe your infection is.

Can Pericoronitis Make You Feel Ill?

Yes, severe causes of pericoronitis can make you feel ill. Pericoronitis can cause fevers, swelling, and or infection.  Ludwig’s angina, as well as sepsis, are two types of infections that can occur. Although rare, they can be life-threatening.

How Is Pericoronitis Treated?

The oral surgeon will determine if your wisdom teeth are partially erupted by doing a clinical examination and taking an x-ray if needed. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, the treatment options are as follows:

  • Over-the-counter pain medication – to help relieve the pain
  • Oral antibiotics, like amoxicillin – to reduce swelling and avoid infection
  • Oral irrigators and an oral rinse – to remove food debris and bacteria from teeth and gum line
  • Minor oral surgery to remove the gum flap covering the partially erupted tooth – to allow for proper cleaning of the area
  • Extraction of the wisdom tooth

Our oral surgeons at California Oral and Facial Surgery are ready to help and alleviate your discomfort. By addressing these symptoms early on, we can help stop the inflammation from spreading and avoid complications from occurring like Ludwig’s angina.

Is Pericoronitis Preventable?

Yes! Pericoronitis is preventable. One way you can do so is by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. This is essential in preventing bacteria from accumulating and causing wisdom tooth infection.

Also, visiting your dentist at least twice a year for your checkup and cleaning appointments will help identify dental problems early on before they become problematic. Your dentist can check the growth and development of your wisdom teeth to determine if there is a need for extraction. If so, speak to your dentist about the cost of the wisdom tooth extraction and the options available to you.

Removing the wisdom tooth before eruption (prior to it becoming visible and coming through the gum surface) can also be an option in preventing pericoronitis.


If you are suffering from any of the symptoms discussed in this article, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment at California Oral and Facial Surgery today! It is our goal to help you receive the best treatment and relief!


Will Symptoms Of Pericoronitis Heal On Its Own?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. The symptoms will continue to return and intensify. That is why it is vital that you seek medical advice from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

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